Environmental Policy

Abengoa is a company deeply committed to sustainable development and to conservation and care of the environment. This unrelenting commitment has led the company to redirect the strategy behind its present businesses from the perspective of sustainability, focusing future business endeavors according to these new environmental considerations.

Abengoa applies innovative solutions for sustainable development in the energy, transportation, engineering and environmental sectors. The company is heavily involved in building and operating solar thermal power plants, producing first and second-generation bioethanol in different places around the world, building and operating desalination plants for generating potable water on four continents, and recycling industrial waste in many different countries.

In addition, Abengoa has a environmental sustainability assessment and management system comprising a range of tools and integrated into the company to ensure thorough and reliable measurement of the global impact of its activity on the environment and to establish objectives for change and improvement.


Photo taken by Flavia de Almeida, from Abengoa Bioenergía, to the 1st Edition of the Abengoa Sustainability Photography Contest

The direction taken by Abengoa places sustainability as the cornerstone of the company’s business strategy.

Abengoa is a company that is deeply committed to sustainable development and climate conservation, having integrated this commitment into its strategic approach by rethinking current business from the standpoint of sustainability, and focusing future business while taking environmental and sustainability variables into consideration.

Abengoa has a sustainability system in place, meaning a system with tools and mechanisms that are integrated into its profile as a technology provider pursuing solutions focused on sustainable development in order to ensure complete and reliable measurement of the total impact of its activity on the environment and to set targets for change and improvement.

Abengoa’s sustainability policy is part of its business commitments in the areas of activity and installation certification and accreditation, the commitments deriving from the Global Compact of the United Nations, and those associated with good corporate governance. This means that the company’s products and services must not only be geared towards sustainable development, but realized in a sustainable manner as well, and that their degree of sustainability be assured, measured and validated using transparent instruments that are recognizable to the market and society. The pursuit of sustainability is the cornerstone of Abengoa’s business strategy.

Abengoa’s environmental sustainability policy is being developed using two key instruments, the greenhouse gas emissions inventory and the Environmental Sustainability Indicator (ESI) System, in addition to another set of complementary initiatives.

Environmental Management

Abengoa has embraced a commitment to conducting business by aligning it with the struggle against climate change. To this end, the company applies innovative solutions for sustainability in the energy, transportation, engineering and environmental sectors. Abengoa is heavily involved in building and operating solar thermal plants, producing first and second-generation bioethanol in different places around the world, building and operating desalination plants for producing potable water on four continents, and recycling industrial waste in numerous countries. Abengoa has already incorporated sustainability indicators into its activity and evaluates its direct and indirect GHG emissions by means of a rigorous inventory. For these purposes, the company has developed groundbreaking assessment tools in this area.

Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Climate change is a reality, the cause of which is human activity. For this reason, the Kyoto Protocol set the target of lowering GHG emission levels by 5% by 2012, taking 1990 levels of developed countries as the basis for reference.

GHG emissions are directly related to industrial activity, with more industrialized countries being the greatest emitters. Lowering GHG emissions without having an effect on gross domestic product (GDP) requires us, among other measures, to develop clean industrial technologies, replace the use of fossil energies with renewables, and modify citizens’ consumption habits. This poses a challenge, not only for governments, but for businesses and citizens alike. Agenda 21 of the United Nations has established an operational framework for facing the challenges of the new century by integrating development with the environment.


Photo taken by Cristina Cuesta Delgado, from Abengoa, to the 1st Edition of the Abengoa Sustainability Photography Contest

Businesses play a key role in combating climate change. This is synthesized in the management of clean production and the promotion of responsible undertakings, implemented through a range of actions:

  • managing the knowledge of an entity’s own emissions: emission accounting and assessment enabling traceability to the different inputs;
  • product labeling;
  • analysis of product and business life cycles, including assessments of improvement potential;
  • innovation;
  • by voluntarily aligning new businesses with sustainable development, a business can become a neutral emitter by purchasing carbon funds to compensate its emission balance.

In keeping with the above, Abengoa implemented a complete system for quantifying GHG emissions in 2008 by means of an internal norm that is comparable to international standards and audited by an independent and external firm.

The purpose of this inventory is to gain in-depth knowledge of the direct and indirect GHG emissions of each of the company’s activities in order to assess the situation and identify paths for improvement. It also facilitates the labeling of Abengoa’s products and services, identifying emissions associated with production, and the evaluation of company suppliers according to the GHG emissions generated by their productive processes.

The scope of this norm covers:

  • Scope 1. Direct emissions: the greenhouse gas emissions associated with sources that are under a company’s control, including emissions from combustion in boilers, furnaces, machinery or vehicles, along with process emissions and fugitive emissions, that is emissions stemming from equipment or installation leaks.
  • Scope 2. Indirect emissions associated with the generation of acquired electricity or thermal energy (steam, thermal oil, hot water, etc.).
  • Scope 3. Indirect emissions associated with Abengoa’s goods and services production chain.

The inventory has a twofold objective in addition to that of reporting emissions: to set quantitative and qualitative emission reduction targets in company activities and to label the products that Abengoa provides to society.

For Abengoa, the inventory is added to the measurement of the economic, social and environmental footprint of the company’s activity, and constitutes yet another parameter for boosting efficiency.

The inventory is part of Abengoa’s commitment to society. For Abengoa, measuring emissions and quantifying efforts to reduce them is a task linked to its businesses; a duty deriving from its business model of ensuring consistency between its undertaking to provide innovative solutions for sustainable development and its commitment to halting climate change.


Photo taken by Jesús Zayas, from Abener, to the 1st Edition of the Abengoa Sustainability Photography Contest

As with the previous year, in 2009 Abengoa conducted annual emissions accounting, which was submitted to a process of external verification by an independent third party, namely PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Based on the results obtained from the emissions analyses of 2008 and 2009, Abengoa is setting emission reduction targets in all of its activities through two types of related measures: low-cost steps, which have already been implemented, and those entailing investment plans, which will become part of budget planning for subsequent fiscal years. Work is also underway to determine the different methodologies for labeling Abengoa’s products and services according to the GHG emissions associated with production.

Environmental Sustainability Indicators

Combating climate change is one of the main axes to Abengoa’s commitment to sustainable development; however, there are other aspects that are not directly associated with greenhouse gas emissions but which nevertheless are part of the concept of sustainability.

For this reason, Abengoa has devised an Environmental Sustainability Indicator (ESI) system, which will be launched during the first quarter of 2010 in order to contribute to enhanced business management, enabling the company to measure and compare the sustainability of its activities and to establish future improvement targets.

This system covers the following indicator groups:

  • Biodiversity: environmental response to the installations according to the sensitivity of their local surroundings.
  • Odors: emission of bothersome odors beyond installation sites or areas of action.
  • Noise: level of environmental noise produced by installations and their areas of action.
  • Water discharges: discharge management related to the environmental quality of the receiving medium, reduction thereof, lowering resulting impact and control of administrative requirements.
  • Soil and aquifers: degree of soil contamination of the site (proprietary or rented) and potential impact on nearby aquifers.
  • Products and services: production recyclability, meaning reuse of materials consumed; adapting products for reuse depending on their structure; raw material applied more than once in the production process and reuse of means of production and transportation.
  • Water consumption: sustainable installation performance in terms of water consumption.
  • Energy consumption: sustainable installation performance in terms of energy consumption.
  • Atmospheric emissions: sustainable installation performance with respect to air quality, with the exception of CO2 and other GHG emissions that are treated as part of the GHG reporting system.

The main objectives of the system are as follows:

  • ensure Abengoa’s business;
  • guarantee that the company is recognized as a business that strives to achieve sustainability by operating in a sustainable manner;
  • enable persons in charge of the different companies to measure and compare the sustainability of their activities;
  • and establish future improvement targets in executing activities.

The indicator system will facilitate environmental risk detection and coverage, determining aspects which have or could have significant environmental impact. It also enables planning of environmental issues required under Section 4.3.1 of the ISO 14001 standard. “The organization shall establish and maintain (a)procedure(s) to identify the environmental aspects of its activities, products, or services that it can control and over which it can be expected to have an influence”.

Most importantly, the system provides companies with an integrated environmental reporting system for obtaining data on environmental impact, reporting when necessary (certification, GRI, etc.) and covering potential risks.

Organizational Structure with Regard to Environmental Sustainability
Training in Environmental Issue Management

For a complex and multifaceted organization like Abengoa to successfully meet all of its environmental targets and its commitment to sustainability, all company members must have received the right kind of training so as to ensure they are aware of the environmental impact of the activities they perform from their respective positions.

At Abengoa, training in environmental issue management is part of the group’s general training process. Each company has an annual training plan, which is primarily based on Abengoa’s competency-based management model, and which entails systematic assessment of its effectiveness.

In December 2009, a course on Sustainable Development and Climate Change was devised and will form part of Abengoa’s 2010 corporate training program. The course will be offered online, in English and Spanish, for all company personnel.

Course objectives include the following:

  • To analyze causes and effects of climate change on industrialized society
  • To learn about Abengoa’s business focus for promoting technologies aimed at sustainable development
  • To foster greater personal engagement with Abengoa’s policy and strategy concerning climate change

In 2009, 200 hours of in situ training were conducted, as well as 600 hours of webex courses in Spanish and English on the new GHG inventory computer application. In addition to these attendance-based and webex courses, online training in Spanish and English is available for individuals who will be involved in the use of the new GHG application, and an online course is being developed on internal inventory norms.

Environmental Management System Certification

In accordance with its policy on environmental management and sustainable use of natural energy resources, Abengoa has established as a strategic objective for all its companies the implementation of environmental management systems in accordance with the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard. This framework establishes a specific target: reducing the potential negative environmental impact of the products and services of each company, including the need to curb consumption of natural resources and waste and emission generation.

The environmental management systems in place at Abengoa are extremely demanding in terms of monitoring and measuring environmental impact and controlling associated operations, and therefore all activities with significant impact on the environmental aspects assessed must be covered under a measurement and monitoring plan and an operational control program.

Practically all of Abengoa’s activities fall under the scope of an environmental management system in line with the ISO 14001 standard, and all significant environmental impacts are identified according to the internal procedures of each company.

In 2009, 84.96% of Abengoa’s companies were certified.

Extension of the Environmental Principles to Include Suppliers

The internal norm upon which the GHG inventory is based, reflected in Abengoa’s Common Management Systems, establishes the obligation to obtain emission reports from its suppliers. The norm specifies, therefore, a connection between purchasing systems and reporting of the emissions associated with goods and services acquired, which are then incorporated into the inventory.

In keeping with the obligations established under the internal regulations, all Abengoa suppliers are required to sign an Agreement to Implement a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting System and the Abengoa Social Responsibility Code.

In 2009, Abengoa continued to strengthen this corporate policy on supplier relationships and has thus far signed 12,800 supplier agreements worldwide.

In the future, compatibility among supply-related emissions will enable us to optimize purchasing and lower the emissions linked to our activities.

Case Study
Abengoa’s Unified Information System

In tandem with the first greenhouse gas emission inventory conducted in 2008, development began on an IT application for automating Abengoa’s greenhouse gas emission management and reporting.

Gradual implementation of the application was carried out throughout 2009. This application will constitute the main source of information for the company’s GHG inventory, facilitating standardization of Abengoa company inventories, data consolidation and supplier comparability based on emissions levels.

The application incorporates all of the functionalities required for entering updated data and emission factors, along with computation and reporting systems configured to ensure the most suitable display structure, and data comparability, all of which will ensure a thorough and reliable inventory in accordance with the internal inventory standard integrated into Abengoa’s Common Management Systems.

An external module has also been added to the application to enable Abengoa’s suppliers of products and services to directly report the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the products they provide the company, which will lend a certain degree of automation when verifying the data provided.

The computer application will also permit compilation of the information linked to the GRI and ESI indicators, thereby rendering an environmental information system that is unified throughout Abengoa, thus ensuring traceability, consolidation, disclosure and transparency.

2009 Milestones
  • Second annual GHG accounting with independent external verification.
  • Implementation of the GHG emission inventory IT application.
  • Definition and coordination of reduction plans.
  • Start-up of a labeling work group to determine methodologies enabling emission allocation of Abengoa products and services, and reporting thereon to the market via GHG labeling.
  • Abengoa was ratified as a component member of the FTSE4Good Ibex, the index of responsible investments managed by the global index provider FTSE Group (Financial Times Stock Exchange) in coordination with the Spanish Stock Market (BME).
  • For the second year in a row, Abengoa participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP7).

Abengoa has pledged to conduct business by aligning its activities with the struggle against climate change